The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Sonia Sotomayor nomination

President Barack Obama has nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court vacancy that will come about with the retirement of Justice David Souter. An unfortunate, but expected, nomination, and one that appears to be one we'll have to live with.

President Obama, as usual, has made sure his nominee is eminently qualified for the position for which he has nominated her. But unfortunately, the "empathy" which Pres. Obama thinks is a desirable quality in a Supreme Court Justice is just what a Justice should not have. A Supreme Court Justice should be impartial and bound only by the law, and "empathy" is an obstacle to this impartiality.

But yet, there is not much one can do. A President is not going to appoint someone who fails to meet his criteria, and if Judge Sotomayor is rejected by the Senate, Pres. Obama will send up another nominee just like her.

All the Senate can do is reveal just what kind of judge she is, and we can all hope that Barack Obama does not have a lot more Supreme Court appointments.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Colin Powell, Tom Ridge, Rush Limbaugh, and Dick Cheney

The quarrel between (on the one hand) Colin Powell and Tom Ridge and (on the other) Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney warrants comment. While I was very unhappy with Powell's support of Barack Obama for the presidency last year, and said as much, if he says he is still a Republican, we must take him at his word. After all, even Obama is willing to accept Joe Lieberman as a Democrat, and he certainly would have reason to harbor a grudge.

The fact is that there must be room in each party for variation in opinion. Our system provides for only two parties, and there cannot be a monolithic position that all Republicans (or all Democrats) must hold. It was the threats from some Republican circles to remove Arlen Specter, one of the best Republican Senators, that led to his declaring himself a Democrat. And the Cheney/Limbaugh assaults on moderate Republicans can only hurt the party.

If I had to choose between Tom Ridge's brand of Republicanism and Rush Limbaugh's, there is no question which way I'd go. And I disagree with Limbaugh on so many issues that it's hard to be in the same party with him. But yet, of course, I'd have more in common with Limbaugh than I do with Barack Obama, so I stay in the GOP. (Apparently, despite endorsing Obama, Gen. Powell thinks the same way.)

Let us insist on an inclusive Republican Party. Anything else concedes the USA to the Democrats.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The furor regarding Miss California

Carrie Prejean, who holds the title of Miss California, made some comments on the subject of gay marriage that have led to quite a controversy. Now that she is opposed to gay marriage may be a fact, but the important facts are:
  • She is a beauty contest winner, not a politician who may be running the country,
  • She is an American citizen, with First Amendment rights, and
  • She is clearly a homophobic bigot.

Nobody need apologize for calling Carrie Prejean a bigot. She has clearly expressed herself, and demonstrated this. But calls for her to give up her Miss California title, which I saw after she had made the comments, are clearly unjustified. To my knowledge, the only qualifications for the title she holds are beauty and perhaps some entertainment-related talent. That she is a bigot doesn't disqualify her.

On the other hand, this doesn't make her a great person. She is (I hope you do not mind my repetition of these words) a homophobic bigot, and she deserves criticism over this. Anyone criticizing her has, just as much as she does, a First Amendment right to express himself.

This blog has not advocated gay marriage, and in fact I believe that at present a civil-union option is probably the best idea, but not because I oppose the idea of gay marriage. I merely think that the rights and privileges of a married couple are far more important than the actual word you use. And it is going to be easier to get civil unions in a lot of states than marriage by that name. If there are people who (for Biblical or other religious-based reasons) cannot support gay marriage but will accept civil unions, it's better to have them on your side than opposed to what you're trying to do. So this is my reason, and certainly the actual institution of marriage in states from Maine to Iowa gets no opposition from me; if you have the votes to get marriage legalized in your state, go for it. But a lot of effort was spent getting marriage in Vermont, which already had civil unions, and I think it would have been used to better effect getting civil unions in states that had no recognition of gay unions at all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The nanny state?

There's a place I frequently go to on Sunday mornings because they have an all-you-can-eat buffet, with reasonably-priced breakfasts on weekends. I used to be especially fond of their corned beef hash; I really like corned beef hash, and theirs was good, and so many places you can't order hash without getting an egg on top, and I absolutely despise eggs, so this was a big treat for me. But a couple of months ago they stopped having the hash. I asked a manager, and he told me that since the County had a no-trans-fats law, they couldn't serve it; they were hoping they could come up with a recipe without trans fats, but until then, it was off the menu. Another thing I liked there was the hash brown potatoes; they still have them, but not as good -- instead of crispy and tasty, they are soggy-textured and much less flavorful. I didn't check on this, but I suspect the same rule led to this change. The government cares so much about "healthy food" that it mandates food that doesn't taste good. I'm sorry -- for me taste is important. I'm not going to die tomorrow if I ingest some hash with trans fats in them. Why couldn't they leave things alone?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Tom Ridge - contd.

Looks like, despite the stories I'd been reading, Tom Ridge is not going to run for Arlen Specter's seat. Oh well -- it would have been an interesting contest. I suspect Ridge probably would rather see Specter continue in office, but obviously, with the political facts being what they are, he no more could endorse him than anyone active in politics can endorse someone out of party and retain his own party's support.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tom Ridge

Now that Arlen Specter has become a Democrat, some people have been boosting the idea of Tom Ridge running against him next year. That sounds like a great idea. Ridge would be far more the kind of Republican that I like to see in office than Pat Toomey, and if it's Ridge on the GOP side and Specter on the Democratic, Pennsylvania would be faced with a win/win choice. I'm not living in that state, but if I were, I'd vote for Ridge just to support the GOP; however, Specter (even if he calls himself a Democrat now) is close to me politically, and should he beat Ridge I could not be all that unhappy. Let's hope that Ridge does run!

An evaluation of Obama's first days

The media have decided that Obama's 100-day "anniversary" is the time to evaluate his administration. 100 days is probably not enough time to come up with a real picture of what kind of president Barack Obama is or will be, but I will join the others in evaluating the administration. It started out with some promise, because most of his nominees looked to be at least very qualified, even if further left than I would like to see. But one of those apparently very qualified nominees, Timothy Geithner, turned out to have serious tax problems (not a great thing for someone who is going to be running the department that incluses the IRS!) And just as Bill Clinton needed three tries to come up with an attorney general, Obama needed three tries to come up with a Commerce Secretary (admittedly, not quite as important a Cabinet position).

It is quite clear that Obama is governing not quite as far to the left as I feared, but still pretty far over. He's backed down on some of his more extreme proposals regarding Iraq, for ecample. But his version of the economic stimulus has clearly been a socialist's dream: even governors who stand to benefit have turned parts of it down because it comes with strings attached that they cannot accept.

His foreign policy looks successful at first; we now have more pleasant comments directed toward us than we did under George W. Bush. But this is at the cost of American values. They like us more, because we're deferring to their ideas more. This is a minus, not a plus!

The economy is starting to recover; how much of this is due to anything Obama's done is questionable, though.

All in all, Obama's not done as badly as I feared, but I'd hardly say it was starting well. It looks as though I'll have a lot more negative to say about his administration over the next three years.